By CARISSA IHM
With a heightened awareness of the existence of food allergies such as monosodium glutamate sensitivity and celiac disease, a gluten allergy, and limited dining options on campus, many students wonder what Food Service Incorporated is doing to maintain a healthy menu and meet each student’s dietary needs.
“We’re installing a new system … through DPI [Department of Public Instruction] and what they’ve done is they’ve come out with a standard recipe file that the U.S. Government FDA has put out,” said Darryl Anderson, executive chef at Mount Mary College. “We would be able to … have the amount of calories, of nutrients, right at our fingertips.”
This new program would enforce the use of the nutrition cards featured throughout the food service line, explaining what each dish contains. Ari Everts, a residence assistant and sophomore, uses the nutrition cards frequently.“I’m MSG [monosodium glutamate] sensitive,” Everts said. “It is found in a lot of Asian cuisine, in sauces and dressings … and it is used as a flavor enhancer and as a food preservative.”Aside from being MSG sensitive, Everts also went through a period where she believed herself to be gluten intolerant. Students like Everts with dietary needs can approach Anderson to set up the appropriate accommodations.
“They were really cool about going out of their way,” Everts said. “If, for some reason, there wasn’t a lot of options for things to be eaten, they would go out of their way to make something. Gluten-free pizza is a huge improvement.”
The gluten-free pizza is a relatively new item added to the menu, made specifically for students with gluten-related allergies.
“It was brought to our attention that we’re not serving enough gluten-free options,” Anderson said.
However, Anderson explained it was difficult to provide gluten-free items because many customers take the gluten-free options and leave the non- gluten-free products behind. Once, Anderson said, they went through six gluten-free pizzas in one lunch period.
Everts found that just asking Anderson for accommodations was usually very successful. However, she did encounter issues finding a toaster to meet her dietary needs.
“There was no gluten-free toaster,” Evert said. “He [Anderson] bought a new toaster for the regular students … and used the old toaster as the gluten-free,” said Everts.
According to Anderson, the food service staff took adequate steps to make sure the toaster would not be a concern for the gluten-intolerant students.
“We blasted the toaster and ran the toaster several times to get the crumbs out, and then we air blasted it again,” Anderson said. “We were confident it was no longer a contamination concern for students.”